Wing energy research dates back several decades to the 1970s when NASA developed an analytical model to predict wind turbine power generation during high winds. Today, both Sandia National Laboratories and National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have programs dedicated to wind research. Sandia’s laboratory focuses on the advancement of materials, aerodynamics, and sensors.
The NREL wind projects are centered on improving wind plant power production, reducing their capital costs, and making wind energy more cost effective overall. The Field Laboratory for Optimized Wind Energy (FLOWE) at CalTech was established to research renewable approaches to wind energy farming technology practices that have the potential to reduce the cost, size, and environmental impact of wind energy production.
Wind power, as an alternative to fossil fuels, is plentiful, renewable, widely distributed, clean, produces no greenhouse gas emissions during operation and uses little land. Any effects on the environment are generally less problematic than those from other power sources. As of 2011, 83 countries around the world are using wind power on a commercial basis. As of 2010 wind energy was over 2.5% of total worldwide electricity usage, growing at more than 25% annually. The monetary cost per unit of energy produced is similar to the cost for new coal and natural gas installations.